What is a Darkness Retreat? How does it work? How do participants experience their time in the darkness?
Watch as Martin and Bharati talk about Darkness Retreats and their personal experience of them:
(However, if you prefer, there is also a condensed summary of what they talk about below the video)
A Darkness Retreat is a very special form of meditation, considered to be a shortcut to enlightenment, used by many cultures. Many of the experiences we will be telling you about come from Darkness Retreats of 10 or 15 days, or even longer, when you don’t even need to meditate, the guru is the darkness, the darkness is the guru. The meaning of the word ‘guru’ comes from India, and doesn’t just mean ‘spiritual teacher’ but also ‘the energy that brings the light’. And that’s exactly what a Darkness Retreat does, paradoxically – it brings the light.
During their Retreat, many people physically see lights with their eyes, and they say the dark gets lighter. During the first few days, the mind can often be busy, and doesn’t accept the darkness, which is why we recommend Retreats of more than 7 days, which gives the mind time to quieten down, and the dark can show you beautiful effects.
Martin and I have two places we can host Darkness Retreats, our main retreat centre in Germany, called ‘Source of Power – Spiritbalance Sadhana Ashram’ where we have six rooms for Darkness Retreats, as well as an Ashram that we can use in India. We also ‘travel on command’ to work with groups in other countries. Martin always says that when working with people, Bharati is for the soul, and he is for the mind (he studied psychology), so they make a good team.
He says that in the darkness, everything gets shut out and your normal way of perceiving the world from the outside, is not possible any more through your visual senses – 80% of sensory information we receive is through our visual senses – so when that is shut out, the brain starts searching for information everywhere (it is an information machine). When it can’t find it outside, it turns inside, which has a very profound impact on the mind, as well as body and soul.
So when people come to us for a Darkness Retreat, we talk to them and offer our support 1:1. We currently have a woman in a Darkness Retreat called Rosita, who has been meditating for a long time, and had spiritual experiences even from her first day, whereas for some people it takes 3-4 days, or even longer for that to happen. So when your physical eyes are shut off, eventually your third eye opens instead, and you are able to have glimpses of other energies and the spiritual world. Those people who have meditated a lot often have those experiences sooner. Though even people who haven’t meditated still have powerful experiences. The experience of time itself can also change, often feeling like it has speeded up.
Often when you let go of your goals of what you want to achieve or experience, the guidance of the darkness, the guru itself, can take you to where you need to go inside. It can be like an internal reset.
Bharati says she becomes very sensitive when guests are in a Darkness Retreat, often sensing when someone might need her to talk to them, or even having dreams about the guest and what is coming up for them. All kinds of things can come up to be released, which is why it is important to have someone to talk to. So we always have someone available 24/7, you just need to ring the little bell that is provided to each guest. Though some people prefer for their Darkness Retreat Counsellor to come at a pre-agreed time every day for an hour, and if something comes up outside of that time, they’ll deal with it themselves. Though they know there is still always someone on call if need be.
There are no set experiences we can say you will definitely experience, because it is different for everyone. Though it can really depend on how open you are to it, how much you are willing to go into it and allow the energy to show you the path. Don’t hold on, and release your expectations, as this creates spiritual tension – just let go. The more you relax, the more you can experience the spiritual vibrations.
The impact can last much longer than just your time in the Darkness Retreat too, it can change something deep within you. Which is why we recommend you don’t immediately return to your ‘normal life’ afterwards, but take some time to assimilate what has happened. In the dark, you become very sensitive. You are like a baby in the womb and are born again. Everything looks so different. You also see so much more beauty and intensity (such as colours) in the world once you come out. You might also be very sensitive to noise.
It’s like seeing things in a completely different light, and you look with your heart rather than just your eyes. Sometimes it’s difficult to say whether the greatest bliss comes from the experiences in the dark, or from those when you come out, because they are so amazing. People can be more sensitive to taste, to friends, to situations and you listen to your soul more, without running so much through your mind. Many people become much more psychic during their retreat, and for some that ability remains afterwards.
After a while in the darkness, you get so used to seeing or perceiving in a different way, that sometimes you don’t even realise that you are seeing something you wouldn’t usually see. For some people it can initially be quite hard to accept what is going on and may feel quite frightening; to realise you’re not alone, to have energy all around you, to hear sounds, to see light around you where there couldn’t be any light, so it’s important to have someone with you to tell you that’s normal, that it’s a good sign and you can relax, to accept the gift the darkness has for you. It washes out our system and our aura, so it’s important to trust our energy system and the process.
One of the group retreats Bharati offers in Germany is about astral travel (or astral projection). She has been studying it for many years, ever since she had her own experience a long time ago, before she even knew anything about it. Then when she did her own Darkness Retreat, she had an out of body experience on the first night. So she says it is very useful to do certain techniques in the Retreat if you are looking for a short cut to astral projection, which she can go through with you.
Food can also play an important role in your Darkness Retreat. Food can ground you and sometimes there are people who are always hungry in their retreat, and then there are some who just want to fast (having solely water and herbal tea, maybe smoothies and juices too). So when fasting, their body becomes even more light, their body becomes clear. (Note – when the video was made, we mentioned we only served vegetarian food, however now we only serve raw vegan food at our new retreat centre in Sasbachwalden.) A lot of people come to really like the raw food, because they are eating with their taste buds and not their eyes (not that raw food doesn’t look good, on the contrary, with all of the different colours it can look amazing! However, in the dark, people cannot determine what it is they are eating to make any judgements about it, they just know how it tastes and feels in their body).
Raw food can really help you to detox – in the Darkness Retreat you are detoxing your body, your belief systems, the world. For many people, their allergies also stop. When you fast or eat raw food, it makes it much easier for your soul to connect with the energies of the darkness. Our guests are given the option of having an aura photograph taken, before and after their Retreat, which can show an incredible transformation in how the energy has cleared and in that time.
We work with you to decide the best route for you with your food. Some people also bring their own special tea or other things that they want to be served with, and that’s OK. In fact, people often ask what they should bring for their Retreat and we say to bring whatever makes you feel comfortable, whether that’s your own pillow or towel, or something more personal that supports you in this process.
You can also do a retreat in a couple or a small group (everyone has their own room, but there’s also a communal dark room where we can meet to do meditations). In these event we often chant mantras, including a special one to us, that brings in the highest light and love. The words are ‘Arut Perum Jothi, Arut Perum Jothi, Thani Perum Karunai, Arut Perum Jothi.’ (They mean Vast Grace-Light, Vast Grace-Light, Supreme Compassion,Vast Grace-Light). There is also an ‘OM’ box in the meditation room (and in guest bedrooms) that chants OM, which creates a beautiful energy in the room and calms you down.
So in summary, the main reasons for doing a Darkness Retreat are that you centre yourself, you really come to your true being, who you are. You get to experience that you’re not your body – this isn’t something you can know just with your mind. You can’t experience enlightenment with your mind. Astral projection and seeing astral beings might be one stage of enlightenment. People can also have great soul healings connected to events from the past. It’s a reset. Often times the benefits only really show themselves some time later, and maybe with a spiritual consciousness they didn’t have before. The energy doesn’t stop when you walk out the door.
We gave you a lot of information, but if you still have questions, or would like to speak to us about doing your own Darkness Retreat, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.